In 1975, a vampire comes to the small town of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine. He changes some of the people to vampires, and they turn others into vampires, until nearly the whole town is undead. Two people eventually kill the head vampire and flee, leaving a town full of vampires behind.
The Marsten House sits on top of a hill. From the Marsten House, one has a view of what happens in town. The Marsten House was once occupied by Hubert and Birdie Marsten. Hubert kills birdie and then himself in 1939, and the mailman finds Hubert and Birdie dead in the house. From that time until around the beginning of the story in, nobody lives in the house.